United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. ALONSO United States District Judge
the Court is plaintiffs' motion for class certification
. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is
a putative class action alleging that the health care
provided to incarcerated individuals in the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) violates
constitutional standards. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief
barring unconstitutional practices and requiring defendants
to submit and implement a plan to address violations. A
court-appointed medical expert, Dr. Ronald Shansky, has
conducted an investigation and issued a final report
certify a class, a district court must find that each
requirement of Rule 23(a) (numerosity, commonality,
typicality, and adequacy of representation) is satisfied as
well as one subsection of Rule 23(b).” Harper v.
Sheriff of Cook Cty., 581 F.3d 511, 513 (7th Cir. 2009).
“Plaintiffs bear the burden of showing that a proposed
class satisfies the Rule 23 requirements . . . by a
preponderance of the evidence.” Messner v.
Northshore Univ. Health Sys., 669 F.3d 802, 811 (7th
Cir. 2012). “Failure to meet any of the Rule's
requirements precludes class certification.”
Arreola v. Godinez, 546 F.3d 788, 794 (7th Cir.
seek to certify a class of “all prisoners in the
custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections with
serious medical or dental needs.” (Pls.' Mem. at
implied requirement of Rule 23(a) dictates that the
plaintiffs' proposed class definition be
‘sufficiently definite that its members are
ascertainable.'” Holmes v. Godinez, 311
F.R.D. 177, 213 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (quoting Jamie S. v.
Milwaukee Pub. Schs., 668 F.3d 481, 493 (7th Cir.
2012)). To satisfy this requirement, plaintiffs “must
define the class with reference to ‘objective
criteria' and propose ‘a reliable and
administratively feasible mechanism for determining whether
putative class members fall within the class
definition.'” Id. (quoting Jenkins v.
White Castle Mgmt. Co., 12 C 7273, 2015 WL 832409, at *5
(N.D. Ill. Feb. 25, 2015)). “[A] class of unidentified
but potentially . . . eligible . . . [individuals] is
inherently too indefinite to be certified.” Jamie
S., 668 F.3d at 496.
argue that plaintiffs' proposed class lacks the
definiteness required for certification, contending that
there is “no objective, administratively feasible way
to determine which inmates have serious medical or dental
needs” and that they do not maintain a master list of
inmates with serious medical or dental needs. (Defs.'
Resp. at 26-27.) Defendants also contend that plaintiffs do
not have standing to sue because they have received proper
medical treatment. (Id. at 27.) Plaintiffs counter
that the class is plainly identifiable-inmates with diagnosed
medical or dental needs-and that defendants' own records
“list thousands of prisoners diagnosed as needing
medical or dental treatment.” (Pls.' Mem. at 4-5;
Pls.' Reply at 7.) Plaintiffs further contend that the
Seventh Circuit has rejected a heightened ascertainability
standard and that there are adequate records to identify
class members. (Pls.' Reply at 25-26.) Finally,
plaintiffs assert that defendants wrongly insist that this
case is about inmates who have suffered past harm.
(Id. at 27.) Plaintiffs emphasize that they are
seeking injunctive relief from future harm for which they
(and class members) are at risk because of defendants'
flawed healthcare system. (Id.)
purposes of the Eighth Amendment, “[a] serious medical
condition is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as
mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay
person would perceive the need for a doctor's
attention.” Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653
(7th Cir. 2005). Contrary to defendants' assertions, the
Court finds several documents attached as exhibits to the
briefs that can serve as “objective, administratively
feasible way[s] to determine which inmates have serious
medical or dental needs.” For example, Menard's
“Monthly Quality Improvement Meeting Agenda”
dated October 27, 2015 is attached as Exhibit 4 to
plaintiffs' memorandum in support of its motion for class
certification. Therein, objective measures of inmates'
health for September 2015 are delineated as follows: nine
inmates visited the ER, six were hospitalized, sixty had
their cases brought to the collegial review board, thirteen
had outpatient surgery, thirty-five had initial or follow-up
consults, nine had CTs or MRIs, two had dental surgery, three
died, eleven had new diagnoses, forty-two were admitted to
the infirmary, forty were injured, and over fifteen hundred
were enrolled in chronic clinics. (Pls.' Mem. Ex. 4 IDOC
Update 002331-41.) The last page of the agenda indicates that
the next meeting was scheduled for November 30, 2015, and
that the report had been prepared by Annette Rodgers, Medical
Records Supervisor. (Id. at 002348.) On its face,
this report demonstrates that defendants have lists (apart
from inmates' individual medical files) indicating which
inmates requested and/or received treatment, presumably for
serious medical conditions. Even if such records did not
exist, requiring a review of individual medical files would
not preclude class certification. See Moreno v.
Napolitano, Case No. 11 C 5452, 2014 WL 4911938, at *6
(N.D. Ill. Sept. 30, 2014) (“[T]he necessity of
manually reviewing [tens of thousands of] forms does not
preclude certification of the class.”). The Court also
rejects defendants' standing argument because the Supreme
Court has held that “the Eighth Amendment protects
against future harms to inmates” and a “remedy
for unsafe conditions need not await a tragic event.”
Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 33 (1993); see
also Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 846-47 (7th
Cir. 1999) (“[T]he Eighth Amendment protects prisoners
not only from a prison['s] . . . deliberate indifference
to a prisoner's current serious health problems, but also
from . . . deliberate indifference to conditions posing an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to the prisoner's
future health.”). Accordingly, the Court finds that
plaintiffs' class is ascertainable.
may be certified if it is “so numerous that joinder of
all members is impracticable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1).
Plaintiff argues that numerosity is easily satisfied here
because the proposed class has thousands of members.
(Pls.' Mem. at 5.) As of August 2015, IDOC housed 47, 000
prisoners, thousands of whom are afflicted with serious
health conditions. (Id. at 5-6; Exs. 2 & 4.)
Defendants confirm these numbers. (Defs.' Resp. at 1.)
The Court finds that plaintiffs therefore meet the numerosity
requirement. See Streeter v. Sheriff of Cook Cty.,
256 F.R.D. 609, 612 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (finding that the
numerosity requirement was met when plaintiffs submitted
evidence demonstrating the proposed class consisted of
“at least several thousand members”).
the commonality requirement, plaintiffs must show there are
“questions of law or fact common to the class.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(2). “Commonality requires the
plaintiff[s] to demonstrate that the class members have
‘suffered the same injury.'” Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011)
(quoting Gen. Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S.
147, 157 (1982)). “The class ‘claims must depend
upon a common contention, ' and ‘[t]hat common
contention, moreover, must be of such a nature that it is
capable of classwide resolution-which means that
determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue
that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in
one stroke.'” Jamie S., 668 F.3d at 497
(quoting Gen. Tel. Co., 457 U.S. at 157).
“Where the same conduct or practice by the same
defendant gives rise to the same kind of claims from all
class members, there is a common question.”
Suchanek v. Sturm Foods, Inc., 764 F.3d 750, 756
(7th Cir. 2014).
assert Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment challenges to
defendants' system-wide policies and practices that
allegedly deprive all proposed class members of access to
adequate healthcare and put them at risk for harm. (Pls.'
Mem. at 7.) They argue that the prospect of common answers
regarding systemic deficiencies in IDOC's healthcare
system that create a risk of harm for all class members
satisfies the commonality requirement. (Id.)
Plaintiffs contend that courts routinely find commonality and
certify classes seeking injunctive relief to address
unconstitutional prison conditions, including inadequate
healthcare, where prisoners allege system-wide practices or
failures that result in constitutional violations.
(Id. at 8.) Plaintiffs allege nine IDOC policies and
practices, laid out in detail in the expert report, that
commonly affect the class. (Id. at 9-20; 4th Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 15, 21-104.) These policies and practices
1) chronically failing to fill medical leadership and other
medical staff vacancies (See, e.g., Pls.' Reply
Ex. 3C Pattison Dep. at 46, 57-58; Id. Ex. 3E Ruffin
Dep. at 156-160.);
2) routinely permitting under-qualified medical professionals
to treat prisoners (See, e.g., Pls.' Mem. Ex. 27
Ruffin Decl. ¶ 4.);
3) failing to timely identify medical problems at reception
and intrasystem transfer (See, e.g., Pls.' Mem.
Ex. 25 Martin Decl. ¶ 9; Pattison Dep. at
4) failing to manage chronic diseases (See, e.g.,
Pls.' Mem. Ex. 22 Lippert Dep. at 28; Id. Ex. 26
Rice Decl. ¶¶ 2-13; Id. Ex. 28 Thomas
Decl. ¶¶ 7, 10-16.);
5) failing to promulgate appropriate infirmary policies
(See, e.g., Martin Decl. ¶¶
6) delaying and denying specialty care (See, e.g.,
Pls.' Mem. Ex. 23 Pattison Decl. ¶¶ 4-6, 8-11,
13-16; Martin Decl. ¶ 6; Rice Decl. ¶¶ 15, 17;
Ruffin Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6-9; Thomas Decl. ¶¶
7) poor recordkeeping, resulting in inadequate and incomplete
files (See, e.g., Rice Decl. ¶ 19; Pls.'
Reply Ex. ...